Last week, the Solomon Islands AFL team, Solomon Sharks, departed for Fiji to compete in the 2012 AFL Oceania Cup.Nine young footballers plus AFL Solomons Job Vulita, with the support of key sponsor QBE Insurance (Head office in Honiara) the Solomon Sharks have been able to expand their representation this year after the success last year of Jave Sarere and Francis Ramo when they competed in an AFL combined team.
This year, the Solomons players will play for the "Solomons All Stars" in the Oceania Cup in Suva against teams from Tonga, Nauru, Fiji and Vanuatu.
In order to be selected for this year's competition, players were chosen following their performances throughout the regular Solomon Island AFL season and the one off match between the National Team versus the Barbarians.
The boys have been training hard three to four times a week for the past few weeks in preparation for the Oceania Cup, with the first match being held on the 12th of December. Standout players from the Oceania Cup will be selected to represent a combined Pacific AFL team.
According to National Coach, Job Vulita, 'the boys should go well as they have been training hard for the competition'. Job says that he is keen to see the performances of Captain Francis Ramo and Sam Bua as they have been standouts on the training track and had dominate seasons in the local competition and appear eager to lift their games to the next level against stronger opposition. Francis is a fleet footed rover who reads the ball extremely well and has outstanding endurance while Sam is a wingman and takes a strong contested mark.
AFL Development Officer, Michael Cormack has gone along to a few of the trainings and has been very impressed by the level of standard and commitment of the Sharks.
Michael says 'the boys are extremely talented and have great ball handling skills. They are precise with their targets and extremely quick, which will make them a formidable opposition'.
Michael believes the experience of the boys being able to compete in Fiji will be invaluable.
'There has been a few lads from Pacific countries not just breaking into the AFL but starting to really dominate games. Guys like Nick Natanui, Alipate Carlile and David Rodan are all stars of the AFL competition' according to Michael.
Thanks to QBE Insurance and with the commitment of the boys, hopefully a future Solomon Islands AFL star will be unearthed next week at the Oceania Cup.